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Sofitel plans major renovation to its New York City hotel amid 60th anniversary celebration

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It’s more than just a diamond jubilee and legacy chatter these days for Accor’s Sofitel. This 60-year-old brand is just getting started with a new era of growth and renovation.

One could argue that one of Sofitel’s best assets, despite its small presence in the U.S., is its brand awareness. The everyday American traveler is likely more aware of the French-influenced luxury brand than the name of its parent company, Accor. Sofitel, at its best, is known for not creating cookie-cutter hotels: Properties reflect the surrounding community while still leaning into French hospitality, culture and food.

Even if its U.S. footprint is small, Sofitel hotels are in key cities here, like Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C. Further, while its presence in the U.S. might be small, Sofitel still counts on American travelers: The U.S., along with Australia, tops the list of key feeder markets for the brand, per a company presentation this month amid the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference.

But Sofitel also faces far more competition today than when it launched six decades ago.

ACCOR

Moving the brand forward can be a juggling act of keeping things fresh and consistent at more established hotels while keeping an eye on growth and expansion with new properties. Along with plans to open 30 new hotels in the next four years, the Sofitel team is hard at work refreshing some of its best-known properties, including Sofitel New York. Twenty-six percent of the roughly 120-hotel Sofitel network has either been recently renovated or is about to undergo renovation.

“I do believe that the power of the brand relies on its culture,” said Maud Bailly, Accor’s CEO of Sofitel, M Gallery and Emblems. “Our brand Sofitel is beautiful, and it’s loved, but, obviously, it has a deep legacy.”

One of the marquee changes underway at Sofitel during its 60th anniversary year is the newly announced refurbishment of Sofitel New York, which is slated to kick off later this year.

ACCOR

The renovation — no price tag was given beyond Bailly assuring reporters, “It’s a lot, and it’s worth it” — encompasses the entire hotel, including 398 guest rooms and suites. The hotel’s lobby, meeting spaces, guest elevators and corridors will also get a refresh.

The development team is working with designers at HBA San Francisco on refreshing the hotel’s current aesthetic of Parisian art deco and 1940s Manhattan glamour with a continuation — and modernization — of the art deco motif. Design elements like Sofitel New York’s grand staircase in the lobby will remain, but expect refined furnishings and finishes in the overhauled space.

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The entire renovation is expected to be completed by the fall of 2025 and will complement other Sofitel refurbishments underway in the Americas, like the recently launched full renovation of Sofitel Montreal Le Carre Dore and the newly renovated lobby and lounge at Sofitel Philadelphia at Rittenhouse Square.

Bailly, who took on her current role early last year, has been frank that renovations are key to making the Sofitel product consistent across its growing network.

“Especially in luxury, you can’t tolerate inconsistency. So, no matter where you stay, you have to enjoy the same product quality, the same service level and the same promise,” she said. “We also needed to reignite our desirability. There are so many new brands, lifestyle brands [and] competition: We needed to reignite ourselves.”

ACCOR

But it’s clear Bailly is also busy at work making sure Sofitel is both consistent and growing: 30 new hotels in four years is an impressive growth target for any luxury brand, let alone one turning 60.

Some of that growth extends to Sofitel Legend, an offshoot of Sofitel that focuses on heritage properties like Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo in Panama. The next Sofitel Legend is slated for Prague, where The Mozart Prague is undergoing an extensive renovation. Some of the upcoming locations for Sofitel include India and Qatar, and Bailly indicated there are leads on potential new deals for additional hotels in the Americas.

So, what keeps guests and owners coming back after all these years for the French zest of Sofitel?

“Why should you choose one brand instead of another? I think it’s important to be different, and part of our difference is being French. Being French — not meaning we’re arrogant or lecturing the world or meaning we are grumpy and complaining all the time — but meaning, gosh, we know how to live well,” Bailly said with a laugh.

“We know how to sleep well, drink well, eat well [and] live well,” she continued. “We are life lovers, and we love art and culture and are trying to build bridges between cultures.”

When you put it like that, who wouldn’t want to check in and enjoy a little French joie de vivre?

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